Going for that evening run, a routine run that you’ve done many times. Summer’s hear, or at least the summer weather and it’s been a hot day. An evening run is nice as it’s a bit cooler at this time but still somewhat hot. You’ve had a busy day outside working in the backyard or maybe cleaning up the garage. It’s been somewhat of a sweaty day.
Time for that run. You’ve brought water with you as you know you’ll need it. You start off with a gentle pace. You’re already thinking that you feel a little off, somewhat lacking. You pick it up a bit increasing the difficulty and you are starting to feel it. That feeling that it’s going to be a laborious run. You give it a few minutes to let your body adjust to the increased pace but it’s tougher than normal. You push yourself through the run but afterwards, you are left wondering why the run was so tough when it was supposed to be a moderate run, not an intense run?
Since we are at the beginning of the summer weather we’ll be getting, at least where I live, and we have already had days in the high 20’s with high humidity we need to understand two important things:
- Our bodies need water. We can live longer without food than without water
- We need to ensure we have our electrolytes. Electrolytes are responsible for our nervous system and if our nervous system isn’t performing well we can’t perform well.
Our body is mostly made up of water and even when we are a little bit dehydrated our performance is impacted. Foggy brain, lethargy are some symptoms of only a 2% decrease in your body’s water level. We don’t always think of this, that something as simple as slight dehydration can impact how we are and how we perform. Let’s look at what a 5% decrease in our hydration level can do to us:
- Can decrease the capacity for work by 30%
- Decrease sweat rate thus increasing body core temperature
- A reduction in blood volume requiring the heart to work harder to fuel our muscles, and our brain
- Increased rate of glycogen use
And lastly, depending on the duration of your workout, prolonged dehydration due to lack of hydrating can lead to death. Years ago there would be incidents of college, and even high school students dying during football practice due to dehydration. You were a wuss if you needed water during practice during hot summer days and these knuckleheaded coaches in their ultimate wisdom deprived people of water. Fortunately, I hope, these days are over. But severe dehydration will lead to thicker blood which the heart has to work harder to move through the body.
Electrolytes. Electrolytes are vital for normal functioning of the human body. Sodium, potassium and calcium. When you are an athlete that is performing intense workouts for more than 60 minutes it becomes important to consume electrolytes during your workout. Also, if you sweat a large amount expelling these electrolytes you need to replenish.
If your body is low on electrolytes you may experience the following:
- Weakness or excessive muscle contractions
Lastly, if you are severely low you could experience seizures or heart rhythm disturbances.
If you think about it all this makes sense. It makes sense that being deficient with regards to something that helps controls the nervous system will impact performance. And increasing performance is one of our goals of working out!
I’m not going too in-depth on this article as I have written articles on these things before (see at bottom of page). But sometimes we need a reminder when we hit that time again.
As a whole, we spend a lot of money on fitness from clothing to the latest tech. It doesn’t require a lot of money to stay hydrated and also to replenish your electrolytes. You’ve made the effort to get off the couch and put in a workout, and may be an intense one. Make it enjoyable by being prepared to get the most out of your body by having your body hydrated and by also being ready to replenish your electrolytes.
It’s hot out there. Be careful and be prepared.
You’ll be glad you did.
Yours in health,